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Meet the Pro Athlete - Training and Racing during the Pandemic

Continuing our regular profile, we are delighted and privileged to bring you this very special feature. A big thank you to Nikki Bartlett, Pro Triathlete and winner of IRONMAN Lanzarote 2019 for kindly taking the time to answer some questions on how she has managed to train and race during this pandemic. Nikki is an honorary member of Havering Triathlon Club and we are delighted to give you this exclusive insight.

How did you maintain your training during lockdown in the hope that there would be races later in the year?

Personally for me I love training, and improving year upon year. So I saw it as an opportunity to improve rather than an excuse to stop. I did cut a lot of mileage from my programme, and focussed on 5k/half marathon running, hour FTP, 2 x S&C programmes and 2 x S&C specific to swimming. I did try the whole paddling pool lark in the garden, but it really wasn’t for me. I managed 3x20/30min swims which equalled to a total of £80ph rate on the paddling pool, haha, so we did indeed sell it.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I did randomly buy a Spiderman outfit, and didn’t really know where I was going with it. The day after it arrived I went for a 45min run with Bex at 7am (whilst people were exercising / on the way to work), and the response was EPIC. So my ’thing’ to help during the difficult 8 week stage where we could only exercise once a day outside, was to use this to run daily and help spread cheer in our local community in Loughborough, it was epic.

What was your go-to work out and most invaluable piece of training kit that has helped you during this pandemic?

Spiderman for so many reasons. But because I was running everyday outside, this naturally led to me doing ALL my bike training on ZWIFT. I didn’t have ZWIFT before lockdown, so this was my saviour. Alongside a Wahoo Kickr which British Triathlon provided through their sponsorship arrangement (I’m also a PTVI Guide for British Triathlon).

Your top tip for club level / age group triathletes trying to keep focused in the hope of being able to race again in 2021.

Join a club / group. I know there’s restrictions at the moment, but sharing this crazy period of time with others is so helpful to get each other through. Then create some short-term goals, i.e. if any 5k/random trail running races come up - give it a shot. Mix training up and keep it fun.

You had an epic race diary for 2020 planned including the ITU World Para Championships as a guide for Alison Peasgood, what would your dream race list for 2021 be?

I think in 2021 my dream list is what I had planned for this year: First part of the 2021 year; Paralympic Q with Alison, followed by IRONMAN Nice, IRONMAN Frankfurt, Paralympic Games and then add in 1 more IRONMAN amongst those races and hopefully qualify and top 10 at KONA.

And finally, your top tip for any aspiring triathletes?

KEEP IT FUN ALWAYS. The key to longevity in sport is a great community around you, which you guys have. Don’t be afraid to mix things up, and do some random challenges. For instance mine was to move my 5K time on to around 16.30, and with that my half marathon and marathon running splits have improved in training too. Fundamentally don’t be afraid to give things a go. I started the sport as a complete novice, couldn’t swim, bought a £150 bike from eBay and started to learn how to run for endurance (I used to be a track - 400/800m when I was younger). Don’t let starting be a barrier, or being afraid to fail, I don’t particularly believe in the word failure, failure is a part of the learning process. So if anyone is reading this, and wants to give triathlon a go - DO IT! Don’t let the cost haunt you, so many people are around to lend and help. Keep loving the process! A few races like Helvellyn and Outlaw X have happened this year under strict Government/British Triathlon regulations, Triathlon is coming back.

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